I saw Ajay Devgn and Kajol together for the first time at Film City studio where they were shooting for
. I was bounding up the stairs, on my way to Juhi Chawla’s make up room. They were coming down. She was sulking, he was trying to
(pacify) her. I reached Juhi’s room smiling, having just seen
(love) for real.
Juhi was sulking too, over co-star Aamir Khan’s prank. Midway through our interview, a bouquet and a king-sized teddy bear arrived. I was smiling again, this was
(friendship) for real. When Ajay and Kajol started seeing each other, few gave the relationship more than six months.
By the late ’90s, few disputed that they would marry. On August 5, 1998, her birthday, Kajol had apparently decided on her wedding date. Family and friends kept mum as the world speculated on a Valentine wedding. February 14 came and went. The wedding finally took place on February 24, 1999.
In the traditional
(nine-yard saree) and a pearl-studded
(nose ring), the Maharashtrian bride glowed like a 100-watt bulb as her Punjabi groom applied
. Picture perfect “Kajol was thrilled to be Mrs Devgn. She had known it was coming for a long time,” reminisced photographer Benoy Roy, one of the lucky few to be invited to the private
Two months before, he had told Ajay he wanted to click pictures at the wedding. Ajay had been characteristically curt, “I’ll let you know but she doesn’t want any photographs.” Benoy had been horrified, you had to have pictures for a family album. Ajay had assured him that if any pictures were taken, he’d take them.
One evening, he was invited to Ajay’s home and informed that he would be the only photographer at the wedding. When Benoy wailed that he was not a typical wedding photographer, he was told to shoot what he wanted."
The pictures were candid, non-filmi and lovely. When asked what Ajay thought of them, Benoy laughed, “Nothing, we just discussed some technicalities. But I could see that he was a very happily married man.” Eleven years later, Ajay and Kajol continue to be happily married.
This year, he flew down from Madhurai where he was shooting for
, expecting to be home for his anniversary celebrations by 3 pm. The plane’s air-conditioning failed, leading to a five-hour delay. Ajay finally reached at 8 pm. And celebrated a decade and one year of marital bliss with daughter Nyasa playing hostess.
Kajol was known to be an impulsive, impetuous brat. I’d reached her Peddar Road apartment for our first encounter one sultry May morning, close to noon to be told that she’d just woken up. She wandered in from the bathroom, toothbrush in her mouth, gestured towards her unmade bed.
Mummy Tanuja handed me a bottle of fizzy and a bottle opener, wondering if I knew of any maids since their one had just quit. That’s the kind of home Kajol came from which is probably why she fit into Ajay’s non-frills homer easily. It was obvious to anyone dropping by that her in-laws doted on her and vice versa.
Father, dear father
A few years ago, action director Veeru Devgn was being felicitated with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Ajay was out of town but Kajol promised to come with him. He wasn’t keeping too well and they’d insisted on his award being given within minutes of his arrival.
A slight delay in proceedings meant that they had to wait half-an-hour. To our relief, the Devgns were soon laughing at Raju Shrivastava and Ehsaan Quershi’s antics. Later, Kajol gently escorted Veeru
up to the stage. The girl who couldn’t take a step without skipping, slowed her pace to match her father-in-law’s.
When Kajol married Ajay she was the unchallenged
Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain
was a surprise hit. The previous year, she’d had two blockbusters,
Pyar To Hona Hi Tha
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
. But she had no second thoughts about an early marriage that could cut short her seven-year-affair with the movie camera.
Back with a bang
There had been apprehensions then that she wouldn’t return. Her godfather, Gautam Rajyadaksha, had insisted that Kajol would never give up her career altogether. She would do the odd film and continue to draw people to the theatres. He was right.
Kuchh Khatti Kuchh Meethi
may not have been box office bumpers but
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
U Me And Hum
My Name Is Khan
(2010) have proved that Kajol is still a bestseller.
Once she’d dreamt of having a bookshop where people could browse, read for hours, then go away without buying any books because she didn’t want to part with her treasures.
May be that’s why she’s never opened the store. She still has her nose buried in her books. But now her craving for Mills & Boon romances and Toblorone chocolates have been satiated. Kajol has found a love that’s forever.